Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dieting Is Like Marriage...

Dieting is like marriage.  It works just fine until somebody cheats.

So I've been pursuing figure transformation  for almost four years now, and one thing I can say from experience is that:

Diets Do Work.

 How do I know this?  Let me count the ways.

Atkins, South Beach, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Dukan Diet,  Sugar Addicts, Slow Carb, Low Fat, High Volume,  Low Glycemic, Beverly Hills Diet, and the beat goes on.

Every one of them, every single one, worked... until I Cheated.

Sometimes I only lost five pounds, sometimes as much as twenty, but sooner or later I gave in to temptation.  It started with fantasizing, then a little fooling around with a little taste here or there.  Perhaps I'd let go with a full on cheat, but then I'd hide the evidence, sleep it off and promise to be good in the morning.  Some relationships were good.  There are times even today when I think I could give up sugar and flour and chocolate for ever, if I could just keep eating bacon.  (Uncured nitrite free bacon of course)

But then I start to think about what I want instead, then to crave it, then to seek it out.  Then finally, alone in the dark, I give in to the fleeting pleasure, the lasting guilt, and another diet bites the dust.

This is Catherine writing, so I promise not to leave you without hope, or a solution.  Forgive me for stealing imagery from Occupy Wall Street, but I have been able to become a member of:

The Five Percent   (As opposed to the 1%, or the 99%- make sense?)

Who are the five percent?  We're people who have been able to lose a significant amount of weight and keep it off for more than a year.  Now I'll be honest, I read a lot of conflicting evidence about whether the ciche' about 95% of dieters gaining all the weight back is legit, but just for the sake of drama let's pretend it's true.  Even if the odds of long term success are only one in twenty, that's better than Vegas baby so lets get in the game shall we?  Allow me to do my best to help you stack the odds.

Be a Fat Loss Vixen

How dare any diet try to tie you down and claim that it's the only way to change your body for good?  Of course a good diet is like a good man: healthy, authentic, interesting, and satisfying.  (Oh dear, I could follow this analogy into dangerous waters, so I'll just let you use your imagination.)  But you don't have to marry one menu and promise to eat that way forever.  I advocate serial monogamy for eating plans.  Let me explain.

How to Keep the Wholesome Foods From Getting Boring

For me, any diet that works even short term has been able to satisfy my appetite for fewer calories than I burn.  Yes, this is classic calories in calories out,  energy balance focused, deficit eating- but look closer.  At different times different foods are satisfying.  I think all of us who have struggled with our weight understand that certain foods are incredibly hard for us to eat in moderation, so during fat loss phases we eliminate or manage them.  (If you know that you have trigger foods I totally understand if you don't want to touch them at all.)  But now it's time to think about how we manage the "good" foods, the "Legal Foods," the foods that are "On the Plan."  From day to day, week to week, and on over time, we do need to remain faithful to the quantity and quality of our eating, but who says we can't play with the composition a little bit?

To be more specific, the Atkins diet does work for me, but I have a hard time sticking with it for more than about ten days.  So I simply transition into an eating plan that brings fruit and yogurt, yes fat free yogurt, back to the menu.  I'll use less olive oil on my salads in order to make room for the calories in the fruit and the oat bran I want to eat.  I can also keep an eye on my calories during the week so I can have a variety meal on the weekend.  Does this make sense?  When one set of healthy foods gets dull, switch it for a different set of healthy foods.

The key is to make sure you don't squeeze your calorie allowance so hard that you have a blowout the minute you have two bites of banana.  Hyper-vigilance over every calorie and macro nutrient is no way to live.  Engaged awareness on the other hand is the effort that's required to change over time.

Know yourself.  Trust yourself.  Diets do work until you cheat.  So be honest with yourself and find out how far you can go and which foods are worth the risk, and then... take it.

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